Randall Swingler (1909-67) is the missing lyric poet of the 1930s and 1940s. Poet, playwright, novelist, editor and critic, his words set to music by distinguished composers of his generation, nephew and godson of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Swingler was the best-known poet active in the British Communist Party. In the 1930s he wrote for the Group Theatre, Unity Theatre and Workers Musical Association. He edited the Left Book Club's The Left Song Book, the books page of the Daily Worker, and Left Review (publishing the famous 'Authors Take Sides on the Spanish War'). He wrote the chorale finale to Alan Bush's Piano Concerto No. 1, and (with Auden) the libretto for Britten's Ballad of Heroes. During World War Two, Swingler served with the Eighth Army in Africa and Italy (including Anzio and Salerno) and was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. After the War, he edited the radical Fitzrovian magazines, Our Time, Arena and Circus and was on the editorial board of the New Reasoner. Swingler's poetry provides a unique record of his times, from the romantic Communism of the early thirties and the campaigning years of the Popular Front, through the war in Italy and the anti-Fascist victory of 1945 to the disappointed hopes of Cold War Europe. Bringing together his poetry for the first time, Selected Poems is an introduction to the work of an undeservedly-forgotten figure and a challenge to our understanding of a remarkable period of English literary history.
Andy Croft is a poet and community-writing activist in Middlesbrough. He has written and broadcast widely on the literary history of the Labour Movement, including Red Letter Days, (1990), Out of the Old Earth (1994) and A Weapon in the Struggle: the Cultural History of the Communist Party in Britain (1998). He has published three books of poetry.
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